Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Five: Word Association

This week's theme comes from Reverend Mother, who writes: "This one is patterned off an old Friday Five written by Songbird, our Friday Five Creator Emerita: Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story. [All five words come from readings assigned for this Sunday's lectionary]"
  1. vineyard
    The vineyard is a common image in both Jewish and Christian scripture. For most suburban Americans, it is about as meaningful as "sheep" and "shepherd", since it is not part of our daily experience.
       I have, however, seen a few vineyards in various stages of development. The first was one in Texas Hill Country; as I recall, Brother Dave took me there 2-3 years ago.
       Vineyards are a relatively recent development in Oklahoma. I have been to Grape Ranch, in Okemah, OK. They offer music at the same time as the Woody Guthrie Festival in July. I may go to the "Red Dirt Harvest Festival" to be held there over Labor Day weekend.
       One of the professors I work with has bought property a few miles east of Oklahoma City which he hopes to develop into a vineyard. He took me to visit the property early last fall; it's a very impressive rolling landscape.
       I no longer drink wine outside of communion, so I don't know whether these vineyards produce a decent product. I did sip a wine slushy last year – which I don't count as a fair test – and it was a little sweet for my taste. Just the fact it was offered as an option is likely offensive to true oenophiles.
       My superficial impression of vineyards are they are relatively inhospitable environments for the average human. The terrain is open and shade-free. Good wine grapes love the heat; that's why areas of Oklahoma and Texas have been good prospects for vineyards. The vines are tangled and have (to my eye) a somewhat threatening aspect.

  2. root
    This word, by intricate association, links with "radical". The word "radical", I have been told, is related to radish – whose fruit is the root. Thus, the denotation of radical is "fundamental" or "basic". Granted, the general connotation is "an extremist with whom I disagree".
       I have the impression that most people, when they talk about getting to the root of the problem, imagine there is a single cause of that problem. Furthermore, they believe that once this cause has been identified and addressed, the problem will be resolved.
       I suppose this might sometimes be the case, though I don't care to hazard a guess as to how often that might be. In botany, a root may not be singular as we commonly think of it; many plants, like most trees, have a root system. They may begin from a single seed, but some root systems are quite complex and can extend for yards.
        I suspect this application of the metaphor is more accurate than the "single cause" image. A problem may have a "triggering event", but repurcussions spread like a complex root system. Discerning the "triggering event" may be helpful, even necessary, but it will not resolve the ancillary repurcussions.

  3. rescue
    Immediate association – the Rolling Stones song "Emotional Rescue". This counts as one of the best song titles for a song I don't like.
       The popular evangelical question "Are you saved" is often understood to mean "Have you been rescued". And some individuals within the evangelical community will understand this to mean rescue from the fiery pits of Hell.
       I don't suppose Jesus meant his life and witness, or our ministry as his disciples, to be a sort of fire insurance policy. The word commonly translated as "saved" is actually closer to the modern "salve"; Jesus is talking about healing, rather than rescue.
       I think one of the main healings Jesus offers is, ironically, a sort of rescue: rescue from a "me" centered universe. Any number of religious traditions offer escape from that stiffling universe, which suggests the illness is endemic to human nature.
       My reading of Jesus' Good News suggests that the quickest escape route from my constricted personal universe is to serve others. Even praying for another can open a door, so to speak. Better to help that person in some way. Perhaps best, where possible, to work with that person to help her/him-self.

  4. perseverance
    One of my college professors insisted on emphasizing the second syllable when saying this word: "per Sehv erance". This is possibly preferable to a mispronounciation I'm often guilty of: "PER sur veerance".
        Incidentally, that professor was talking about a mideval morality play, "The Castle of Perseverance". This play is similar to the better-known "Everyman": the main character faces a series of life-challenges and temptations en route to the Castle.

  5. divided
    A house divided against itself, quoth the Emanicpator, can not long stand.
        This is as true on the micro level as it is on the macro level. That is, it is possible to experience conflict between what one proclaims on Sunday and how one lives the rest of the week. I've talked about this before in terms of integrity or congruence.
        If one's actions reflect the faith one proclaims, that person is living a congruent life. I would count him or her as a person of integrity; which is to say that her or his actions are integrated with, or reflect, what they proclaim.
        On the other hand if one proclaims love and forgiveness on Sunday, but holds grudges the rest of the week or works to harm another, it might said that person's life and profession are incongruent. That person is divided against him/her-self.
        I'll admit there are people who seem able to live this way for extended periods of time. These people seem unaware of the dissonance between their actions and their Sunday prayers. I would guess these people are lying to themselves at some level, or don't perceive particular instances as really counting.
       But I suspect that if a person is painstaking honest about whether her or his actions are congruent with their professions, they will be incapable of maintaining that tension for long. Either they will dismiss the profession (as is often the case), or they will strive to bring their actions into congruence with their words.
In the vineyard
where the fruit is pressed
where the sun ascends
where a figure bends
let us begin:

The fruit has taken root
its seed unfolds
it drinks the sun
while a figure bends
the growth begins

The sun will rescue this growth
will ignite the tang,
the tanis, the swirling aroma
while a figure kneels
the leaves begin

With perseverance
the vine ascends
the fruit descends
and a figure gathers
the harvest begins

Good fruit from bad is divided
the good is pressed
The juice explodes
soon a figure sits
and the feast begins

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